The government has published statutory rules for new nuclear operators to produce plans for funding the decommissioning of their power stations and managing their radioactive waste, the department of energy and climate change (DECC) said on Thursday.

The ministry said this would enable new nuclear operators to come forward with plans to deal with decommissioning and radioactive waste management for approval by the secretary of state.

Nuclear operators will have to prove they have a credible plan for funding the decommissioning and safe management of their radioactive waste. This is the best way to protect taxpayers from having to pick up the bill, energy minister Charles Hendry said.

DECC said the published guidance set out that operators must have insolvency-proof funds set aside for nuclear clean-up from day one of nuclear operation.

Operators must also have a realistic, clearly-defined, and achievable plan for the decommissioning of any site, with a robust estimate of costs, DECC said.

DECC added that funds must also be set aside for clean-up that is to be administered independently of the operator and the government.

Beyond protecting taxpayers from the cost of nuclear waste and decommissioning, Hendry said the guidance was aimed at setting clear rules for investors.

We are determined to encourage investment in new nuclear in the UK, and ... publishing this guidance takes us closer to enabling that investment to come to fruition.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Jason Neely)